Dalton Schomp: FAU’s draft darkhorse

After leading the nation in yards per punt and setting numerous schools records, the former Owl is hoping to become just the sixth punter selected since 2014.


Dalton Schomp led the NCAA in yards per punt during the 2015 season. Ryan Lynch | Editor in Chief

Brendan Feeney, Managing Editor

Dalton Schomp is no different than most college football players in wanting to play in the NFL, but as a punter, he is taking a path unbeknownst to most.

Three punters heard their names called during last year’s draft, after only one was selected in each of the previous two years. For reference, the next fewest drafted position, tight end, has had 40 selections over that span.

Schomp is used to the lack of attention the punting position garners. He led the nation in yards per punt as a junior, broke several program records as a junior and senior, but still managed to stay undetected for the most part.

“Usually with a kicker [or] punter, you shouldn’t be getting much attention unless you’re doing something bad,” Schomp said. “I like sort of flying under the radar. It’s kind of what I feel like it’s always been.”

Alexander Rodriguez | Contributing Photographer

Quietly aiming for the next level isn’t too distant of a memory for the Seminole High School graduate. During his senior season, he said the most he received in terms of college recruitment were questionnaires.

Then while playing for the state soccer championship, Schomp’s high school coach, Sam Roper, took his players’ highlight tapes to a coaching fair. Schomp attended the fair with his father the following day when players were allowed.

“That’s when I thought I was probably going to go somewhere to play college,” he said. “I had no idea where, but I figured that’s what I was probably going to go and do.”

Division II and Division III coaches called Schomp over the following few weeks, and the then-recruit believed he’d end up in Pennsylvania. The two fit each other well as the school needed a kicker and a punter, and Schomp had nearby family.

As decision time loomed closer, Schomp received a “random” call from a school he had never heard of — Florida Atlantic University. At the time, quarterback Stephen Curtis manned the team’s punting responsibilities, as then head coach Carl Pelini didn’t have a single punter on his roster.

“That was pretty appealing that they didn’t have [a punter] on the roster and they gave me the tour and the brand new stadium and everything,” Schomp said. “That’s then how I decided, ‘I want to go here.’”

Schomp won the starting job in camp as a freshman, but due to trouble with the NCAA receiving his high school tests, he was ruled ineligible for the first game. He then lost the job after a strong performance from Sean Kelly.

Two years later, Schomp won the job as a redshirt sophomore and began stamping his name into the FAU record books with the third highest single-season punting average. He never expected what happened the following season.

“Most of the time I don’t really necessarily believe it [even now], like it’s a really cool statistic to have,” Schomp said. “It’s weird to think I actually did it.”

He said he didn’t realize leading the country in punting was a possibility until the team’s second-to-last game of the season, a meeting against the University of Florida.

“I was kind of surprised and shocked [to find out], and playing in Florida I felt like I had to have a big game,” he said.

Schomp went on to have one of the biggest games in his collegiate career. Not only did he average 47.8 yards on eight punts, he recorded two tackles and rushed for a first down on a fake punt.

“I stayed at No. 1 going into the last week and I saw there were like two or three guys that were within like 0.2 or 0.3 yards per punt, so I kind of put some pressure on myself,” Schomp said. “I felt like I needed to have at least a 48-yard average.”

He averaged 53 yards in the final game and one of his two kicking coaches, Harry Kayan, who updated Schomp on his ranks throughout the season, told him that he officially led the country. Schomp and Kayan have worked together since Schomp’s freshman year of high school when his older brother, a long snapper, introduced them.

When in South Florida and around FAU, Schomp works with Tony Bugeja, who also trains Chicago Bears punter and Lake Worth native Pat O’Donnell. Bugeja said that it’s Schomp’s hang time and consistency that sets him apart.

“He hits a great ball with really good hang time and he does it consistently,” Bugeja said. “In fact, he’s actually one of the guys who has actually been able to really make a difference throughout his collegiate career with separating himself away from the pack … With Dalton, the numbers don’t lie.”

The two train for a couple hours, three to four times a week. They’ll start off with 5-to-10 yard tosses to work on catching the ball and getting it to the mold — where the punter sets the ball before dropping it.

Next, they work on spinning the laces up, progress into doing that while taking their steps, then work on dropping the ball flat, in an 11-12 o’clock angle.

“A lot of people don’t necessarily understand how technical punting and kicking are, because if one thing’s off, everything is completely off,” Schomp said.

Schomp then starts his punting at a slower pace and gradually works his way up to regular and directional punts.

Dalton Schomp performs in front of scouts from 27 different NFL teams during FAU’s pro day. Alexander Rodriguez | Contributing Photographer

“We do a lot of drill work,” Bugeja said. “We try to do a lot of manipulation drills to try to add more pressure, timing drills to really bring the time, and intensity of the time down pat and really make a difference in what we do and try to make that translate to the game field.”

Schomp took a break from his training with Bugeja in February to travel out to Phoenix for the Kohl’s Pro Combine, an opportunity for kicking and punting hopefuls from college and NFL free agency.

He finished in the top 10 of a competition based on distance and hang time and advanced to the next round, which was streamed and sent to NFL coaches and scouts. Schomp was one of six punters to be able to punt the ball 45 yards with a 4.5 second hang time, tying for second.

“That’s a big deal, that’s a very big deal,” Bugeja said. “That’s amongst the best of the best and he was actually able to make top 10 with guys who had NFL experience and are looking to find another job, and he actually managed to make the top 10 straight out of college.”

Schomp participated in FAU’s pro day on March 30 and has two more lined up with the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But if you ask his girlfriend, FAU senior film, video and new media major Cooper Flower, the NFL hopeful has been relatively calm about his future.

“Typically when Dalton is not practicing with Tony, he’s just very mellow and casual about the whole process of going into the NFL,” she said. “I think I’m more excited than he is that he’s going to the local pro days … he basically is just very very humble about the whole experience.”

Bugeja said he’s looking at the sixth and seventh rounds for Schomp to be taken, but noted that the draft isn’t the only door to the league.

The NFL hopeful plans to head home during the first day of the draft, but other than that, doesn’t have much planned.

“Just hanging out with family, and enjoying time with family because with being here over the past five years, I haven’t had a whole lot of getting-to-go-home opportunities and to be there and just be with family,” he said. “So every chance I can go home and hangout with them, I’ll take.

“It’s just different for a punter, you just go through different things. But I know fairly well the way things should go or will go and what to expect and what not to, so I feel pretty good where I’m at.”

Brendan Feeney is the managing editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.